There is no shortage of contention and opinions surrounding the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, which involves the management and protection of those animals on 26.9 million acres of public lands in the West.
There are many consequences to doing nothing to manage herds, and cattle ranchers are often vying for the same grazing lands. Populations are always going to be central to the discussion.
Recently, the American Wild Horse Campaign and equine photographer Kimerlee Curyl filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nevada challenging a 10-year plan by the BLM to round up and remove nearly 10,000 wild horses from the Antelope and Triple B Herd Management Area in southeastern Nevada. The suit also says that the BLM intends to manage the wild horses that remain on the range by castrating stallions and using “an unproven birth control vaccine on mares.”
In the suit, the plaintiffs push for more scientific information from the BLM, such as an Environmental Impact Statement, including whether any of the management decisions made will affect the natural behaviors of the animals.
To support the suit, the group claims that 80 percent of Americans oppose plans to destroy or sell for slaughter tens of thousands of wild horses, but that’s based on polling from the alternative Public Policy Polling firm, which has been known for polls looking at the approval rating of God, whether Republican voters believe former President Barack Obama would be eligible to enter heaven in the event of the Rapture, and whether hipsters should be subjected to a special tax for being annoying. The cited poll also used a sampling size of about 550 people, which is on the low end of acceptable sizes for national polls.
The BLM is no stranger to getting sued over its land management decisions involving ranchers, environmentalists, and the wild horse population. A recent case out of Texas, which drew a fairly high profile, ended in settlement.